POPSUGAR is a great example of what it means for a brand to stay true to its foundation while also adapting to the times. Still under the leadership of its original founder, Lisa Sugar, the brand has discovered new ways to rebrand while keeping the positive and upbeat voice it has always been known for. "We don’t ever want to be stagnant," said Alessandra Foresto, Editorial Operations Director.
October 4, 2019
A Taste of Popsugar: "Move Fast... Welcome Change"
NYU M.S. in Publishing students at POPSUGAR
When NYU M.S. in Publishing: Digital and Print Media students visited the POPSUGAR offices recently, they were greeted with not only pizza, but also an honest discussion with seven editors about the POPSUGAR brand and their jobs in digital media. All the students were in awe of the candid conversation and insights that the editors provided.
Every single one had a frank story of being laid off at one point or struggling to make it in the industry; that said, what was the most impressive of all was their resounding love for POPSUGAR – for some, dating back to their teenage years. "I always wanted to work at POPSUGAR," said Kathleen Harper, the site’s Associate Native Fashion Editor.
Joanna Douglas, Head of Native Content for the brand, an NYU alumna, and our wonderful host for the visit, talked about how even though POPSUGAR has existed for over a decade, the company still has a "startup mentality." This mentality means that they aren’t afraid to try new ways of reaching their audience and are constantly looking at metrics to see what content is resonating. "We are really obsessed with the content we produce," Douglas added, reflecting the passion for the brand so prevalent during our visit.
One of the ways they have innovated is through the popular event POPSUGAR Play/Ground, which the site describes as "an immersive and interactive festival aspiring to help women power their 'happily ever afters' — whatever that may be." The event includes panels with stars like Mandy Moore and Issa Rae, a beauty carnival as well as shopping bazaar, and fitness and wellness sessions led by a variety of experts.
The event helps the brand to diversify revenue while also interacting directly with its audience: all employees participate in the event in some form. "It’s so cool to see the brand brought to life in that way over two days," said Perri Konecky, Associate Editor, Trending and Viral Features. "We get to show off clothes and get real time feedback," added Katie Shafsky, Copy Editor. Through Play/Ground, noted Foresto, they can show that POPSUGAR is "a brand you can live and experience, not just a brand you read."
What came through during the entire conversation was that POPSUGAR is a brand that cares. The editors want to speak directly to readers and always treat them with the respect they deserve. Charisandra Perez, Social Media & Partnerships Coordinator, explained that when she is writing posts for social media, she pays attention to every detail, making sure to be as inclusive as possible. "If we use emojis, we use both male and female ones. It’s never 'he' or ‘she’ but 'you'."
Outside the conference room where the visit took place, POPSUGAR’s values are posted on the blue background that is now integral to the brand. "We are passionate. We move fast. We welcome change. We value our team. We love to win. We are fans. We are supportive. We are kind. We are positive. We collaborate. We say cheers." The editors all noted how important it is for them to remember those values every day, which is why they have them on the wall for everyone to read. And having a work environment where everyone works hard, but also has the space to be themselves, is part of the ethos. Victoria Messina, Associate Editor, Trending and Viral Features, said that the work-life balance is very important at POPSUGAR, and she loves how comfortable everyone is with each other.
"Everyone," added Konecky, "can find a piece of POPSUGAR they can be comfortable with."